Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Huntington Beach
Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury and four times as likely to sustain a nonfatal injury than their passenger vehicle counterparts. Because the severity of injuries can be linked to a lack of shielding, there is much stigma surrounding motorcycle riders and whether or not they should file a lawsuit after a crash.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you may very well be entitled to compensation, but there are some key factors to consider. Here is an overview of what to know about the motorcycle accident lawsuit process. For additional information, please schedule a free consultation with Coast Car Accident Lawyers in Huntington Beach.Free Consultation
When Can a Lawsuit Be Filed with the Insurance Company?
Eligibility to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit depends on the statute of limitations and if it can be proven that the other driver was negligent.
In California, people who feel they have been wronged by another person or entity are given two years from the date injuries were discovered to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit, according to the state’s statute of limitations. However, certain factors can reduce the deadline from two years to just six months.
In addition to the designated timeframe to file, it must be proven that the crash occurred due to the other party’s negligence. To prove negligence, the following four elements must be presented:
- The driver owed a legal duty to the motorcyclist
- The driver breached that duty
- The breach caused the motorcycle accident
- The motorcycle accident caused damages to the motorcyclist
A motorcycle accident caused by negligent actions, such as speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way, or texting and driving, puts the driver at fault. If the motorcycle rider can prove all of these elements, he or she may file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages.
Why Fault Matters in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Determining liability in motorcycle accidents is based on the same principles as other car accident cases. In general, fault is determined by “negligence,” which is defined as the failure to act in a reasonable manner and prevent harm to others.
Negligent actions can be apparent in either the motorcycle rider or driver of a passenger vehicle. Common causes of most motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving: Talking on the phone, texting, eating, or engaging in any activity that distracts from driving interferes with important traffic cues.
- Drunk driving: Impaired driving causes drowsiness, reduced reaction times, and blurred vision, increasing the chances of an accident occurring.
- Improper lane changes: Drivers who do not check their mirrors or signal with their blinkers before changing lanes can hit a neighboring motorcyclist.
- Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit lessens the amount of time to make urgent stops and react to unforeseen hazards on busy roads, like Beach Blvd. and Pacific Coast Highway.
- Unsafe lane splitting: This is when motorcycles ride between two lanes of traffic. Although legal in California, this can be dangerous if not done with extreme caution.
Legal responsibility is pivotal in establishing whether or not a motorcycle rider should file a lawsuit. Therefore, before a motorcycle accident lawsuit is filed, fault must be established.
Other Possible Liable Parties Involved
While many motorcycle accident cases involve negligent drivers, there are some instances when more than one party or even a non-driver may be found liable.
If the motorcycle manufacturer produced defective parts, which resulted in an accident, a motorcycle injury claim can be filed against the manufacturer.
Similarly, the city of Huntington Beach or a government entity can be found liable for road hazards that endangered motorists. These parties are responsible for designing and maintaining safe roadways; failing to do so is considered negligent.
Many insurance companies will attempt to refute liability for the motorcycle accident and push blame elsewhere–sometimes, even on the accident victim.
This is why it is recommended that motorcycle accident victims consult with a personal injury attorney when pursuing legal action. Doing so can identify the appropriate at-fault party and hold them accountable.
Evidence Needed to File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
In order to prove liability and why damages are owed, compile as much supporting evidence as possible, such as:
- Lost wages: Evident in W-2 forms and paystubs, indicating income that could not be earned while recovering from injuries
- Medical records: Documents sustained injuries and medical bills for treatment, as well as potential future medical expenses
- Photos and videos: Visual evidence that showcases injuries, reconstructs the accident, and presents images of what happened
- Police report: Documents the details of the accident, including the names of the drivers, the vehicles involved, the injuries sustained, and which party is at fault
- Witness statements: Unbiased accounts from those who witnessed the accident can describe what led up to the motorcycle crash
How Does Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Work?
After evidence that supports the motorcycle accident claim is collected, a lawsuit can be filed. The overall process will consist of the following procedures.
Report the Motorcycle Accident
The injured motorcycle rider reports the event to his or her insurance company. Then, the insurance of the at-fault driver is notified regarding the personal injury claim and incurred damages.
The Insurance Claim Is Acknowledged
In California, the insurance company has 15 days to acknowledge the motorcycle accident claim was received and 40 days to accept or deny the claim. Negotiations will likely take place after, followed by litigation if a motorcycle accident settlement amount cannot be reached.
Initiate the Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
A lawsuit can be filed if the insurance company refuses to pay a fair motorcycle accident settlement. This will consist of filing a complaint through the Orange County Superior Court. Then, the defendant must be served with the summons and has 30 days to respond.
Next, the discovery phase will begin. Both parties exchange evidence and undergo a series of questions regarding the motorcycle accident. This phase helps both sides prepare for the trial.
Options for Before Going to Trial
The case may go to arbitration where an unbiased third party listens to the opposing claims, reviews evidence, and awards damages. If both parties agree on the outcome, the motorcycle accident case is settled.
However, if a resolution is not reached, the pretrial begins, and the case will be settled by a judge and jury.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Case Take to Settle?
The amount of time it takes accident victims to recover from injuries, the motorcycle accident case’s complexity, and the progress of negotiations all affect how long it will take a case to settle.
Generally, it can take a few months to a few years to settle a motorcycle accident lawsuit with an insurance company. Here are some of the most important dates and deadlines that affect when a motorcycle accident case settles:
- Acknowledgment: The other party’s insurance company has 30 days to acknowledge the motorcycle accident claim for damages has been received. If the company does not respond within 30 days, the claim is considered denied.
- California’s statute of limitations: This is a two-year period to file a lawsuit. However, it is best not to prolong taking legal action, as evidence and witnesses may become unavailable.
- Negotiations and Mediation: If the initial motorcycle accident claim is rejected, the motorcyclists can try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance companies. Or, a mediator, a neutral third party, can help both sides reach a motorcycle accident settlement. The timeframe will vary in these instances.
- Recovery time: Medical bills make up the majority of motorcycle accident settlements, so in order to recover full compensation, injuries must have been diagnosed and treated. Serious injuries will take longer to heal and affect the settlement turnaround.
- Response time: The insurance company has 40 days from the date of being notified to accept or reject the motorcycle accident claim. Prolonging the response time delays reaching a settlement.
- Trial: If a settlement is not reached out of court, a trial will follow. There will be allotted time for both sides to gather evidence, go through the discovery phase, execute a pretrial, and hold a final settlement conference.
It is important to note that these are general guidelines. The actual timeline for settling a motorcycle accident claim in Huntington Beach, CA will vary depending on the specific facts of the case.
How Is Compensation Determined?
When a personal injury claim is filed against the at-fault driver, the intended goal is for the insurance company to pay back the losses caused by the accident–in addition to compensating for foreseeable damages.
There is no average motorcycle accident settlement value. Therefore, the value of every motorcycle accident case will vary. The following affect motorcycle accident settlements:
- Defendant’s insurance coverage: The other party’s insurance company is only required to pay up to the maximum amount of coverage. If the settlement amount exceeds the maximum limits, the defendant is responsible for the remaining balance.
- Lost wages: Lost income or diminished earning capacity is representative of the earnings the motorcycle rider lost due to injuries.
- Medical bills: The initial ambulance ride, hospital bills, surgery, physical therapy, prescription drugs, and other medical costs to treat injuries from the motorcycle crash make up the majority of compensation.
- Pain and suffering: This is a form of non-economic damages that compensates accident victims for the physical and emotional turmoil experienced as a result of the accident.
- Serious injuries were sustained: Motorcycle riders often suffer severe injuries that require extensive and costly medical care.
- Strength of the case: Depending on proof and available evidence, the motorcycle accident case may settle before a lawsuit is filed. Typically, the stronger the case is, the higher the motorcycle accident settlement amount.
Do I Need a Huntington Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
An attorney helps clients understand the timeline for settling their claims, assisting them recover the maximum compensation they deserve. Additional benefits include:
- Correspond and handle negotiations with the insurance company, preventing clients from accepting unfair settlement offers
- Gather testimonies from expert witnesses who can analyze the accident scene and prove that the other driver was at fault
- Getting them the best local medical care in Orange County, maximizing the recovery rate for their injuries
- Navigate the complicated legal process, ensuring important deadlines are not missed and that the personal injury claim is filed within the statute of limitations
- Obtain evidence, such as a police report, witness statements, and video surveillance
- Retain detailed records of sustained injuries, accumulated medical bills, and proof of pain and suffering which legitimizes the claim amounts
Motorcycle accident victims are not required to hire legal representation to file a lawsuit. However, working with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer greatly benefits injured victims and increases their chances of recovering maximum compensation.
Coast Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
Our Huntington Beach personal injury law firm specializes in motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle accidents. The process of filing motorcycle accident lawsuits can range from months to years. However, working with a dedicated and experienced motorcycle accident lawyer from Coast Car Accident Lawyers will not only produce a win, but we do it with maximum recovery.
With a 99% success rate, we are confident in our abilities to defend clients’ rights and get them the fair compensation they deserve. To learn more about our legal team or to inquire about your motorcycle accident case, schedule a free consultation.